Love Styles and Boundaries

Pleasers and Boundaries

Let’s begin by reviewing what boundaries are all about.  Henry Cloud and John Townsend have written extensively on the topic of boundaries.

The following overview is taken from the book by Cloud, Changes that Heal.  He devotes a chapter on boundaries.


Boundaries are the ability to maintain one’s own identity and selfhood while connecting with others.

An intimate relationship needs both vulnerability and closeness as well as the freedom to move apart and be separate.

In a healthy relationship, each person is supportive and encourages the uniqueness and
growth of the other.

In other words, closeness does not equal sameness.


Thinking about a relationship with no (or few) boundaries will help us better understand boundaries.

An enmeshed or fused relationship is an unhealthy bond in which boundaries are violated and any individuality, separateness, or differences are viewed as

Pleasers and Boundaries

Pleasers have difficultly with setting limits, saying no, or doing anything that might make someone unhappy or angry with them.

Remember their one goal is to make others happy so they can relax.

When those close to them display negative emotions pleasers scurry around to make it all better.

Pleasers are the ultimate “fixers” and they have difficulty upsetting anyone.

Saying “no” may cause others to be unhappy or frustrated.

Pleasers are ultra-sensitive to rejection and will do all they can to avoid it.

Pleasers have difficulty with the emotion of anger in general.

They don’t like to feel it, express it, or have anyone be angry with them.

Since they avoid anger it takes years of giving too much before pleasers start to feel frustrated and resentful.

Setting limits often comes out of the emotions of frustration, irritation or anger.

When someone steps on your toe and stands there, your first reaction is to push them off because it hurts.

Pleasers minimize their own discomfort and talk themselves out of being hurt or angry.

When someone stands on their toe (figuratively of course) they say, “Well, they don’t really know they are on my toe.

It’s OK.  It really doesn’t hurt.

They might think I’m pushy and mean if I tell them to ‘Get off my toe.’ ”

In general, a pleaser’s boundaries are too soft.

They give too much and take too much without a thought about the cost to them.

Pleasers have difficulty with honesty.

Again an honest talk may likely cause discomfort and pleasers want to avoid discomfort.

Pleasers tell me they feel “mean” when they are honest in any way.

Role playing any boundary setting is essential in the beginning.

Often the pleaser is so nice the boundary gets lost in the overly pleasant, polite language.

Pleasers won’t set good boundaries until they deal with their intense fear of rejection and or abandonment.

To a pleaser, rejection feels deadly.

In truth, Jesus faced rejection daily when he was on the earth.

He still does.

Jesus had enemies on earth during his life.

He still has enemies today.

He tolerates rejection and the anger of both believers and unbelievers alike.

This is where pleasers need to grow in the image and likeness of Christ.

Love and blessings,

Milan & Kay

Next Week: Continued Discussion of Boundaries and the Love Styles.

a threat and are not easily tolerated.

Dependence may be exaggerated and the ability to function independently is limited.